As we look at the Ontario Association of Art Galleries today, keeping in mind the purpose originally set down…one can say that the organization has served its membership well. As in the past, and surely in the future, OAAG will be a viable force whose voice will continue to be heard in the art world.
— Pamela Wachna, Looking Back: Nostalgia that Works, celebrating the Ontario Association of Art Galleries’ 10th anniversary in 1978
As OAAG marks its 50th anniversary this year, we continue to be a force in the art sector in Ontario and across Canada. Our origins, current work and future ambitions are continuously centred around being a strong network and a leading voice for public art galleries.
Before its incorporation in 1970, OAAG was formed with the purpose of circulating exhibitions. Priorities shifted through the years, and members agreed that a platform was needed for galleries to gather around, discuss issues in the sector, and that larger institutions could provide professional advice to smaller and emerging galleries as part of the Association. From eleven founding members to now more than 270 art galleries, artist-run centres and arts organizations, our reach continues to grow and our work, more than ever, remains necessary.
The current health crisis has highlighted the precariousness of our sector, and we are supporting our members as they navigate through these unavoidable changes. Advocating on their behalf has become crucial to aid in their survival during this time. Reaching our semi-centennial milestone during this tumultuous time gives us the opportunity to reflect not only as an organization, but the sector as a whole. What does the future of the sector look like for us? For our members? For art galleries and institutions across the nation?
We do not have a clear picture of what the future looks like, but we do know that art galleries will continue to be crucial in sustaining the cultural vibrancy and well-being of communities across Canada. To mark a half-century of leading professional development and excellence within our sector, we celebrate the continued vitality of the public art gallery and its many contributions to the advancement of knowledge and understanding of Canadian art practices for our communities and audiences.